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Sleep problems

Many people suffer from poor sleep; they spend long restless nights in frustrated agitation wishing that they could sleep. It is important to examine factors that contribute to bad sleep.
Once you identify and address the things that spoil your sleep, you can tailor a solution. Good sleep is essential.

8 hours

Sleep cannot be neglected. Your body uses sleep to regenerate, recuperate, rest and recover. Modern culture is filled with things that spoil your ability to sleep properly.
If you want good sleep, you must be willing to change your habits and attitude, and be prepared to treat it as a commitment.

10 - 6

The ideal time to sleep is 10 PM. You sleep most deeply between 10 PM and 2 AM. 6 AM is the earliest you should rise.
Seratonin changes to melatonin at 10 PM, and 6 AM is when your circadian rhythm begins to wake you up.

Food & drink

If you need to eat after your evening meal, it needs to be small and light. Eating late means that your body will be digesting food rather than sleeping soundly.
Drinking too much of anything before bed may will unsettle your bladder during the night. Caffeine-laced drinks will not help you to sleep; your body needs to be caffeine-free for a few hours before bed.
Chocolate is almost as bad as caffeine. Alcohol might make you drowsy but it also dehydrates the body - although you may fall asleep, it is not healthy rest. Try cutting out sugar entirely.

Talk is cheap. What does it actually equal?

How much of your time do you spend discussing things that have absolutely no meaning, or occurrences which you have no control over?

(Scott Shaw)


You cannot rest if you are agitated; so start to slow down long before you go to bed. Slow down your movements, put your phone on silent (or in another room) and take some time to settle.

  1. Stop talking
    - when you cease talking, your mind immediately begins to calm down
    - forget about tomorrow, stop pondering what has happened today - let all your worries drift and settle
    - if you cannot settle, write a 'to-do' list for the morning and then stop thinking and planning


  2. Switch off the television, put off your music, and go to bed

  3. Read a relaxing book slowly and carefully

  4. Lower the lights

  5. Stop smoking

Let sleep take you.

Tai chi

Physical labour helps you to sleep soundly. Tai chi works the body without exciting it. You fill with oxygen, exercise the muscles and remain calm.


Ventilate your room all night if you can. Open the windows long before you plan to sleep and leave them open.
Leave a slight gap in the curtains to allow more air to enter - breathing fresh air will help you to sleep.

Constructive rest

We teach students how to perform constructive rest. This exercise enables the body to relax completely and comfortably, and begin to replenish itself.
If you cannot sleep, perform constructive rest for half an hour, and then go to bed.

Imagine waking up each morning full of energy and vitality yet also feeling calm and relaxed about the day to come. It sounds like a miracle yet this state of abundant health and wellbeing should be our birthright. In our natural state we would face each day with joy, peace, and a deep connection with our bodies.

(Jane Alexander)


Ideally, sleep on the floor - on a foam bedroll used for camping. This will not appeal to many people, so consider your choice of bed carefully.
If your bed is saggy, this will not aid sleep. Buy a new one. Not too hard. Not too soft.


Extremes of temperature are not good for sleep. Do remember that your body temperature must cool in order for you to sleep soundly. Central heating or an electric blanket can make you too hot.


Remember that it is normal and healthy to wake up when distracted; it is a survival mechanism. Yet, if everyday sounds are waking you up, this is not good.
Street noises, neighbour noises and household noises will not help you to sleep. If there is a street lamp outside your window, choose your curtains or blinds with this in mind.
Take all possible measures to reduce the likelihood of interrupted sleep.


Electrical items make a humming noise all the time, and they also vibrate. You may not consciously notice it, but your body does.
Remove all unnecessary electrical items from your sleeping room, especially the television. If you cannot remove them, switch them off at the mains. Use your bedroom for sleep.


An irregular sex life can really spoil your sleep - chemicals build up in the body and you become restless and agitated. Neglecting this aspect of your life has a price.
Commit the time and you will have much better sleep.


Establish a pattern of sleep. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time; even on weekends. Do not be tempted to fall asleep again in the morning.
This will just ruin your night time sleep and may be an indication of depression.

Don't look back with regrets, because there is nothing that you can do to change the past.

Do not look forward with anticipation.
Do it or don't do it.
Live it, when it arrives.

(Scott Shaw)


For Rachel
Page created 6 September
Last updated 04 May 2023